Mold on Succulents: Causes, Signs, Treatment, and Prevention

As you decide to water your succulent, you start to notice something off about its foliage. It seems to be covered in a white powdery substance. Well, that’s mold.

Mold on succulents can develop for various reasons such as overwatering and fungal infections. Treating mold mostly involves resorting to fungicides, whether chemically made or organic.

That being said, stick around to learn more about mold on succulents and how you can prevent it in the future.

Causes of Mold on Succulents

One of the most prominent causes of mold on succulents is none other than overwatering. Too much moisture invites fungal growth.

Nevertheless, some types of mold like powdery mildew can afflict your succulents with little water present. This kind of fungus thrives in a similar environment to succulents, which are dry and warm.

Plus, mold is highly infectious. You may have bought an infected succulent and it may be spreading the fungus to your other plants. In powdery mildew’s case, it can spread through fungal spores traveling through the air.

Moldy succulent

Signs of Mold on Succulents

Generally speaking, several kinds of mold affect houseplants. In a succulent’s case, your plant is likely dealing with powdery mildew. This is because the mold flourishes in the same environment as succulents.

That being said, to identify the mold, you’ll need to closely inspect your succulent for the signs listed below.

White Substance

One of the first signs you can see on your infected succulent is the powdery white substance dusted on its surface.

Black Spots

As the mold develops, it turns to a darker shade, almost yellow and brown. Finally, the white spots you’ve seen before will turn black.

Health Decline

On top of the spotting you see, the succulent’s health will likely decline. The plant’s leaves will twist out of shape before they die and fall off.

Root Rot

Certain types of molds can leave your succulent suffering from root rot. In the initial stages, you may not notice root rot since it’s well-hidden.

Nonetheless, over time, puffy and transparent leaves will give you the sign you need to prevent the rot from spreading any further.

Related: Spider Mite on Succulents: Causes, Signs, Treatment, and Prevention

How to Treat Mold on Succulents

Luckily, treating mold should be simple and only takes a few steps. In some cases, mold like powdery mildew may even go away on its own.

That being said, here’s how you can get rid of mold for good.

Step #1: Isolate the Succulent

Mold-infected succulents can affect other surrounding houseplants. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, we suggest quarantining the succulent from its neighbors.

Step #2: Prune the Succulent

If you’re dealing with root rot or any form of it, then you’ll need to prune the infected areas to save what you can.

You can take the succulent out of its pot and prune the dark dead roots and repot it in a new and sterilized pot with a well-draining soil mix.

Step #3: Use a Fungal Deterrent

Fortunately, you can resort to several fungal deterrent choices. From chemical sprays to vinegar, you can pick between fast and organic solutions.

Fungicide Spray

Fungicidal spray

Since the mold is characterized as fungal growth, you’ll need to use a fungicide spray to eliminate it. You can find multiple options in the market specified for houseplants.

Neem Oil

If you don’t want to tamper with chemical sprays, then you can opt for other organic options like neem oil. Thanks to the oil’s insecticide and fungicide properties, this essential oil will work exceptionally well to rid you of any mold mess.

All you have to do is mix, in a gallon of water, two tablespoons of neem oil, and one tablespoon of dish detergent. The latter will help in emulsifying the ingredients together since oil and water won’t blend alone.

Baking Soda

Another popular fungicide choice is baking soda. The best part is that you probably already have it on your kitchen counter. Apart from that, studies have suggested that using bicarbonates like baking soda alone won’t be as effective as using them with horticultural oil.

In addition to this, using too much can prove toxic to your succulents due to the high sodium levels present. While the signs of toxicity may not appear right away, the sodium can build up over time in your succulent’s soil and cause damage.

For this reason, you may want to choose a different and more effective option like potassium or ammonium bicarbonate. What’s even better about these choices, is that they offer additional potassium and nitrogen nutrients to your succulents.

Sulfur

Aside from bicarbonates, you can also use sulfur compounds to keep mold at bay. This element has been used as a fungicide for over a couple of thousand years now. Besides that, sulfur is highly effective against fungal spores, which are prevalent in powdery mildew species.

Before using sulfur, be sure that you didn’t apply any oil to the plant. Otherwise, the mixture can prove lethal to the succulent. Additionally, the efficacy of powdered sulfur as a houseplant fungicide is heavily reliant on the temperature.

For this reason, you’ll want to apply the compound in temperatures ranging between 60 to 80 degrees F. If you treat the succulent with sulfur when it’s above 80 degrees F, then you’ll risk burning the leaves.

Powdered sulfur

Vinegar

If you’re looking for an alternative natural fungicide, then vinegar is your best bet. This acetic acid solution can combat fungal growth in your succulents without causing much damage, unlike baking soda.

Having said that, you primarily need to be careful with how much vinegar you use. In a one-gallon spray bottle, you can mix two to three tablespoons of the acidic solution.

After applying the mixture to the affected regions for about a month, you should notice some healthy results. Aside from that, you can also opt for apple cider vinegar.

How to Prevent Mold on Succulents

To prevent any mold growth, you’ll want to inspect your succulents more often to get ahead of any fungal developments. Plus, you also need to keep any infected succulents away from healthy ones.

Besides that, you also need to keep a watchful eye on your watering schedule. As a general rule of thumb, only water the succulent if its soil feels dry. Otherwise, you’ll risk overwatering the houseplant and creating a breeding ground for mold.

Rather than water your succulents from the top, you can bottom water them to prevent extra humidity that attracts fungal spores.

On top of that, you also need to use well-draining soil with perlite or lava rock potting mix to provide improved circulation. You’ll also want to make sure the pots you use contain drainage holes to seep out any excess water.

Users Also Read: Succulents That Don’t Need Sunlight

Can You Save Your Succulent from Mold?

Broadly speaking, succulents are hardy plants and can survive most mold infections. Some fungal growths may be too much for your succulent to handle.

This could include a Fusarium Wilt infection, which is non-treatable. Meanwhile, other issues like root rot can develop and adversely affect the succulent. In this case, you could propagate surviving parts to keep them alive.

Wrap-Up

Mold on succulents is often unpleasant when spotted. Nevertheless, with proper care and treatment, you can bid that pesky fungus farewell.

You can employ various methods such as using sulfur powder, vinegar, bicarbonates, and neem oil. The organic options will treat the mold without putting your succulent in too much harm compared to some chemical fungicides.

Aside from that, mold prevention starts with the right well-draining potting mix and sufficient watering routines. Once you’ve got that down, your fussy fungus problems should be more manageable.